Translated Interviews from the Kaitai Shinsho (AKA Dismantled) Complete Guide


Pro Adventurer
Included in this thread are English translations of staff interviews from the Final Fantasy VII Kaitai Shinsho Complete Guide (ファイナルファンタジーVII解体真書ザ・コンプリート, AKA "Dismantled"). The book was published March 24, 1997, and the interviews were conducted after the Japanese release of Final Fantasy VII (January 31, 1997). As such, these are some of the earliest staff interviews about Final Fantasy VII. While the main text of Dismantled's walkthrough and commentary is considered non-canon, these interviews contain valuable insight into when and how some of the story, systems, and techniques used in Final Fantasy VII took shape.

The guide contains nine interviews, the last of which takes up two pages instead of one. In cases where interviews were conducted with multiple respondents, the transcript is a combination of their (uncredited) responses. While this is a little annoying, you can usually infer who says what from the context. I've chosen to use the singular pronoun "I" except in cases where it is clear the respondent is speaking of a group effort. I've also included the Japanese text for readers' convenience.

Special thanks to do_it_again_chen at *cough* e-hentai dot org for uploading the original scans.

Thank you to Shinra Archaeology Department's @Obsidian Fire and @Cae Lumis for fielding questions about the content and providing text for the profiles and highlighted quotes.

Interview with Tetsuya Nomura, Lead Character Designer

Joined Square on April 16, 1991. Involved in the development of Final Fantasy V and on. Served multiple leading roles in the development of Final Fantasy VII, including Character Designer.

"We worked tirelessly to incorporate the perspectives of many different people. Final Fantasy is a series that cannot be made by one person alone."

Q: Is there any sort of secret story to how the characters of FFVII came to be?

A: As a matter of fact, in the beginning we had only Aerith—there was no Tifa. Then one Sunday night I was on the phone with Director Kitase and suggested, “Let’s kill off Aerith and bring in Tifa” [laughs]. It wasn’t always the type of story where two heroines appear but one winds up dying. [Nomura may alternatively be saying there was no precedent for a video game story where two heroines appear but one dies.]

Q: You mentioned that you’re involved in other aspects of the project aside from character design?

A: I also came up with the main premise of the story—stuff like what our main character is trying to accomplish, and with whom. I tried to think about the story context, such as Cloud being an ex-SOLDIER who chases after Sephiroth, in parallel with the character design. Those two plot elements—Cloud’s objective and the journey to find the Promised Land—served as the starting point for the entire rest of the story.

Q: You also had a hand in designing the game’s enemies, correct?

A: I collaborated with two other staff members on that. As I was designing the enemies, I also had to consider how they would attack, which proved a difficult task. The hardest of all was Yang, an enemy that appears in the basement of the Shinra Mansion. We repeatedly went back to the drawing board in an attempt to make it more zombie-like. As a result of Yang’s exaggerated torpor, the battle became very time-consuming, and people complained [laughs]. Yang is just one of several rare enemies that appear only in specific places. I hope players will take the time to explore and seek them all out.

Q: Were there any other jobs you were placed in charge of?

A: I was also the one who created the Limit Break system. In the previous game, Final Fantasy VI, characters gained access to special skills when they were close to dying. However, perhaps because they appeared so rarely, players barely took notice of them. So, I tried to implement a more useful system this time around. The summoning magic had become very flashy looking, and I realized the character polygons could be moved with a similar sort of freedom, so I leveraged these animations to create spectacular Limit Breaks.

Q: Even just designing characters is a difficult task, but this time your involvement with Final Fantasy VII went well beyond that.

A: It did indeed [laughs]. I also drew the storyboards for the summoning magic. After we successfully dealt with the animation where Titan peels up part of the ground, we were able to use that effect to raise enemies up [on a piece of earth] during Gigaflare.

Q: Which summoning magic would you say is your favorite?

A: That’s a tough one. They’re all pretty neat, but if I had to pick, I’d say Titan and Ifrit. Knights of the Round is also a good one. I expected it to be a long summon even from the beginning, and once it passed the one-minute mark I figured I may as well go all out [laughs].

Q: Unlike with previous Final Fantasy games, the interpretation of this game’s ending seems to vary from person to person.

A: That was deliberate. Some people might think that the Northern Crater is the Promised Land, while others might say that every place rooted to the earth is its own Promised Land. Personally, I’m of the opinion that Midgar is the Promised Land, based on the fact that it’s full of vegetation at the end, and it’s the place where Aerith—an Ancient—directed all those currents of Lifestream. But I don’t know how Nojima, the lead scenario writer, would respond to that [laughs].

Q: Considering that it’s given rise to differing interpretations even among those who made it, this story sure does stimulate players’ imaginations.

A: That’s because it’s lovingly composed from over 100 different people’s ideas and opinions. Historically, Final Fantasy games have always been made that way. All I’ll say is that you can’t produce a work of this caliber with one person alone.




Q: キャラクターが誕生するまでの隠されたエピソードのようなものはありますか?


Q: キャラクターデザイン以外のことにも関わっていらっしゃるとのお話ですが?


Q: モンスターのデザインも手がけられているんですよね?


Q: 担当されたお仕事は、まだ他にも?


Q: キャラクターのデザインだけでも大変なのに、そこまで今回の『VII』に関わっていらっしゃるとは…。


Q: お気に入りの召喚魔法はどれですか?


Q: エンディングがこれまでの『FF』とは異なり、人によって解釈が変わってくるように思われますか?


Q: スタッフ間でも解釈のちがう部分が生まれるというのは、それだけプレイヤーに想像させる楽しみを与えるシナリオということなんでしょうね?

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Pro Adventurer
Interview with the Battle and Materia Team: Kentarō Yasui (Lead Effects Programmer), Takatsugu Nakazawa (Lead Battle Planner), Hiroshi Harata (Lead Battle Programmer), Shintarō Takai (Battle Effects Lead), and Yasushi Matsumura (Lead Battle Planner)

"Please note that there's more to the game's weapons than just their attack power."

Q: One of the game’s highlights this time around is the Materia system. Where did the concept for it come from?

A: It was Producer Sakaguchi’s idea. He thought it would be interesting to make what were once [fixed] abilities into items that could be equipped to characters in various combinations. That concept was fleshed out and expanded into the Materia system you see now.

Q: You can achieve various effects depending on how you combine Materia. Are there any setups you’d recommend?

A: It’s hard to pin down because a lot of it depends on where you are in the game, but Added Effect and Elemental are always handy. I thought it would be neat if you could convert your favorite weapon to something like a “Flame Sword” or a “Lightning Sword.” I also tried to emphasize things other than the weapons’ attack power, such as number of Materia slots and rate of Materia growth. As a result, I think I was able to create weapons that players still want to use despite their lower attack power, which is something you don’t see in conventional RPGs. And don’t forget that Materia can also produce various effects when they’re attached to armor, not just weapons. Even the people who designed the system are still discovering new things you can do with it [laughs], so you may still be able to find out combinations nobody knows of yet. It’s the kind of system you can tinker around with and not get bored of, so I’d encourage players to take a break from the story and experiment with it.

Q: Counter is also a fun Materia to use.

A: I’m sure a lot of people have already thought of it, but there’s a tactic where you combine Cover and Counter. Not only does it allow you to get extra attacks in, but because you’re absorbing more damage with that character, their Limit Gauge fills up faster. You can further refine this strategy by equipping Long Range. That way, when your character protects an ally and counterattacks, they take only half as much damage.

Q: Were there any Materia that ended up being cut from the game?

A: At one point there was going to be a swimming-based dungeon, and if you didn't have the Underwater Materia equipped, you'd drown and be unable to access it; but the plan was discarded during development. There was also going to be a Hazardous Terrain [lit. Damage Floor] Materia [that would prevent damage when equipped], but on a CG map [with no tiles], taking damage every step would have been impractical, so it was scrapped.

Q: Why was Golem left out of the summon lineup?

A: Because it was infeasible in terms of planning. Initially, Golem was going to appear whenever the party entered a battle, but it turned out that there wasn’t enough space in the battle scene memory to store it. Also, it wouldn’t have been very interesting to have a summon that attacked only once [per battle], so in the end I decided to have it appear as an enemy monster.

Q: If you were to help make Final Fantasy VIII, what kind of work would you want to do in it?

A: It’s only a vague idea at this point, but it might be interesting to set battles in a field with varying elevation. So, even if they’re facing the same enemy, players would have to adjust their strategy based on where that enemy is positioned, such as a rooftop. Also, although I couldn’t make it happen this time due to processing constraints, I’d definitely like to try rendering battle scenes using dedicated light sources. Finally, there’s memory card functionality—something like catching a monster, turning it into a card, and exchanging it with a friend. Those are just a few of the challenges I’d like to tackle if I get the chance to work on Final Fantasy VIII.



Q: 今回の目玉のひとつであるマテリアのシステムは、どのようなところから考案されたのでしょうか?


Q: マテリアはその組み合わせによってさまざまな効果が得られますが、オススメのものはありますか?


Q: 『カウンター』も気持ちいいですね。


Q: ボツになったマテリアはありますか?


Q: ゴーレムが召喚獣からはずされたのは?


Q: もしも『FFVIII』を制作することになったら、どのような作品にしたいとお考えですか?

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Pro Adventurer
Interview with the Battle Team: Masahiro Kataoka (Lead Battle Planner), Takayoshi Nakazato (Lead Battle Designer), Akira Fujii (Battle Scenery Lead), Tatsuya Kando (Lead Animator), and Tomohiro Kayano (Lead Character Modeler)

"We hope you enjoy the modeling and animations to their fullest."

Q: The battle system has changed quite a bit since the last Final Fantasy game. You must have had a lot on your plate.

A: I felt very anxious at first. Someone high up in the company came to me and said, “This is how the battles are going to be this time” [laughs]. From the very beginning of the project, it was decided that the battles would be in 3D, and I wondered if I was really capable of such a thing. At that time, there was no other RPG title that was using this development method. But I told myself that if I tried, I would somehow make it happen [laughs].

Q: The in-battle models change depending on which weapons characters have equipped. Did you prepare separate models for every single weapon?

A: It depends on the character. With Red XIII I didn’t bother because his weapons aren’t visible, whereas with Cloud there’s a different model for every weapon. We prepared different models for Tifa’s weapons, too, but because they’re so small, it’s unfortunately hard to tell the difference. If you use her Limit Break, you may just be able to catch a glimpse of them when it zooms in [laughs].

Q: The camera system is also pretty elaborate, isn’t it?

A: For the Auto camera angle option, I made three different angles for each type of magic. This is the camera option I recommend—I put a lot of effort into it. There's also a more whimsical one, and an option where I've dragged the camera back so that it shows the whole field of view. There isn’t any variation in how normal attacks like striking and slashing are shown, but I was inventive with how I portrayed special magic attacks. I’ve also come up with ways to focus on enemy attacks in cases where the modeling is impressive or the animation looks cool.

Q: What were some things you struggled with while doing the camera work?

A: There were a lot [laughs]. It would have been nice if the characters and enemies were of a similar size, like in a 2D fighter, but the game contains a rich variety of monsters that range from tiny to enormous. If a runty enemy is too far away, then players won’t be able to tell what it’s doing, whereas a big monster runs the risk of clipping through the screen. Therefore, I had to rig up a system that could accommodate different enemies on a case-by-case basis. Needless to say, it all took a lot of work, so I’d like it if players would set the camera option to Auto and enjoy the modeling and animation to their fullest.

Q: The battle scenes feature a huge variety of backgrounds, don’t they?

A: I tried to avoid recycling backgrounds wherever possible, so you really get the impression I packed in as many as I could. On the field screens we use tens of thousands of polygons to draw beautiful backdrops, but once you enter a battle scene there are far fewer polygons at your disposal, and the textures you can use for the background are limited. I tried my best to bridge this visual gap as much as possible. In terms of numbers, there are over 80 types of background, and unique scenery has been prepared for even the smallest slivers of the world map. Even after clearing the game once, I doubt you’ll have seen all the different battle scene backgrounds.

Q: I was surprised by how well the summoning magic blended into the scenery, regardless of the background.

A: I came up with all sorts of approaches in an attempt to make everything fit together, but it was difficult because some of the summons used very particular animation techniques. Depending on the summoning magic, it could be a pretty unforgiving task [laughs]. Speaking of summons, there were times when they proved too large to squeeze into the room [where the battle was taking place]. In the end, I solved this problem by slightly expanding the backgrounds [laughs].

Q: If you were to work on Final Fantasy VIII, what kind of product would you like to make?

A: I’ve come to see that using polygons has strengths as well as weaknesses. Equipped with that knowledge, I’m confident we could put out an even more amazing product than we did this time.



Q: 前作までと戦闘シーンが大幅に変わったので、大変だったんじゃないですか?


Q: 装備した武器により戦闘時のグラフィックが変化しますが、すべての武器のCGが用意されているのですか?


Q: カメラのアングルも凝ってますよね。


Q: カメラワークで苦労した点は?


Q: 戦闘モードの背景も種類が多いですよね。


Q: 召喚魔法を使ったときに、どの背景であってもうまく融合するのに驚きました。


Q: もしも『FFVIII』を作ることになったら、どのような作品にしたいとお考えですか?

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Pro Adventurer
Interview with the Event Team: Hiroki Chiba (Lead Event Planner), Kazuhiko Yoshioka (Lead Event Programmer), Keisuke Matsuhara (Lead Event Planner), Motomu Toriyama (Lead Event Planner), Kazushige Nojima (Scenario Writer), and Jun Akiyama (Lead Event Planner)

"All of the characters this time are hiding their true faces."

Q: Compared to previous games, the plot of Final Fantasy VII feels more internal than external.

A: I thought it would be more interesting to focus on the cast and not just on the world around them. Perhaps that’s what makes the game feel “dark” [laughs].

Q: How did you establish each character’s personality?

A: I was given a general sense of each character by Nomura, who did the character design, and then wrote the events and dialogue accordingly. With Tifa and Aerith, we tried to juxtapose their personalities with their appearances. Tifa might look like the peppy one, but it’s actually Aerith who rallies the party and gets things done.

Q: When Cloud gets separated from the party, it seems like Tifa becomes more and more dependent.

A: Tifa becomes very clingy after that event, and I think that’s actually her true personality. The protagonists this time are all more or less deceiving one another—there’s this feeling that everyone is pretending to be someone they aren’t.

Q: I’d like to ask a few questions about the main scenario. Is the diary in the basement of the Shinra Mansion supposed to be about Zack and Cloud?

A: That’s right. Zack is a SOLDIER, and from his speech and behavior, Cloud in his fugue-like [lit. motion-sick] state assembles his own image of what a SOLDIER should be.

Q: What’s the connection between Barret and AVALANCHE?

A: When Barret came to Midgar seeking revenge, he found an AVALANCHE that was fighting for reasons that aligned with his own. Seeking to imitate them, Barret named his own group AVALANCHE. But that’s not to say the original AVALANCHE ever disappeared. They’re still carrying out minor operations behind the scenes, in places the player never gets to see.

Q: Toward the end of the game, we fight the Turks in the Winding Tunnel beneath the Shinra Building. What happened to them after that?

A: Despite the work they do, the Turks haven’t bound themselves body and soul to the goals of Shinra—they’re more shrewd and businesslike than that, and aren’t about to lay down their lives just to thwart Cloud’s group. By now I expect they’ve found other work to do elsewhere. Elena probably went back to her parents’ house, though I’m not sure where that is [laughs].

Q: You spent a whole year working on Final Fantasy VII. What are your thoughts now that the work has been released to the public?

A: It’s complicated [laughs]. It looks like it’s selling a lot, and the game has even been featured in newspapers and such, yet it still feels like it belongs to this niche realm of hobbyists. Sometimes I worry about whether my own values and interests will ever be accepted into the mainstream.

Q: If you were to help develop Final Fantasy VIII, what kind of work would you like to create?

A: This time, we were still sort of lugging around the old Famicom-era command selection system. I think there are a lot of hardware opportunities that we still have left to explore, such as the analog stick, or maybe NeGcon [motion input] support [laughs]. Going forward, I’d like to pursue an entirely new paradigm for the Final Fantasy series.



Q: 今回はこれまでのシリーズとちがい、ストーリーが外にではなく内側に向いているように感じるのですが?


Q: キャラクターの性格は、どのように設定されたのですか?


Q: パーティーからクラウドがはずれるころから、ティファがどんどん気弱な感じになっていきますが?


Q: シナリオ上で疑問だったことをいくつかうかがいたいのですが、神羅屋敷の地下にある日記に書かれているのは、ザックスとクラウドのことなのでしょうか?



Q: バレットと、アバランチの関係というのは?


Q: 終盤、神羅ビルの螺旋トンネルでタークスの面々と戦いますが、彼らはその後、どうなったのでしょう?


Q: 1年にも及ぶ時間をかけて『FFVII』を制作されたわけですが、その作品が世の中に出ることに対して、どのようなことをお考えになっていますか?


Q: もしも『FFVIII』を開発することになったら、どのような作品にしたいとお考えですか?

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Pro Adventurer
Interview with the Minigame Team: Tadamichi Obinata (Snow Game Programmer), Shin’ichi Tanaka (Submarine Game Programmer), Ryū Mutо̄ (Condor War Programmer), Tatsuya Yoshinari (Shooting Coaster and G Bike Programmer), and Keitarо̄ Adachi (Chocobo Racing Programmer)

"We've hidden a number of 'secrets' to keep you from getting bored."

Q: There’s certainly no shortage of minigames this time.

A: After the main scenario was completed, we still wanted there to be more game content for players to occupy themselves with, so I came up with a number of sequences that could be turned into minigames. We determined which of these sounded both feasible and enjoyable, and each staff member was tasked with bringing one or more to life.

Q: I’d like to ask each person on the team to share any anecdotes or difficulties they had while working on the minigames. First up, let’s talk about Snow Game.

A: When you play the game at Icicle Inn, if you pop the balloons one after another, a special guide balloon will appear that tells you which path to take at the fork. If you choose the right path and slide down it, you can start closer to the exit when you land in the vast snow field on the next screen. So, if you want to make things easier for yourself later on, be sure to pop as many balloons as you can.

Q: The Submarine Game really seems like it’s true to scale.

A: There was a time when I thought about making it a tabletop-style minigame where you seek out the enemy fleet using radar. However, the [playtesters] didn’t seem very intrigued by that idea, so I ended up making it into a sort of flight simulator shooter. The thing is, players will get confused if you suddenly introduce a complex mechanic into an RPG, so I had to keep the difficulty quite low.

Q: Fort Condor lets players enjoy a variety of battles depending on when they stop by.

A: The Condor War minigame features a total of seven different battles. You might think there are only two—the first battle and the final battle—but I’ve prepared extra content for those players who return at odd points throughout the story. The trick is not to attack but to focus on defense.

Q: Shooting Coaster is a minigame that demands good reflexes and memorization.

A: It’s a minigame in the truest sense, with no complex mechanics. Rather than trying to master it, I’d encourage players to sit back and enjoy it without too much thought. Of course, if you can’t remember the order in which the targets appear, you won’t be able to break your record. So, if you want to achieve a high score, you’ll have to put a decent effort in. You can earn points in unexpected places, such as from the light that appears at the end of the ride, so keep an eye out for these.

Q: G Bike feels like a minigame that’s simple yet difficult at the same time.

A: It probably feels that way because I was asked to keep it simple, but at the outset I considered introducing a variety of enemies. It’s more of a scenic minigame that lets you savor the atmosphere. Yet there were still [playtesters] who complained they couldn’t defeat the enemy bikes [laughs]. It’s pretty simple once you realize that you should ram the red enemies and slash the yellow ones with your sword.

Q: The Chocobo Racing minigame is so packed with features. It really keeps you coming back for more.

A: There are a lot of secrets tucked away [laughs], like strategies for recovering stamina and a trick to zoom in or out on the Chocobos at the betting board (see p. 210). The names are significant, too: you can predict which abilities the [automated] chocobo inherited from its parents based on the first and second halves of their name. If the father was a stretch runner but the mother lacked stamina, [the offspring] will burn out early and have a hard time winning. Knowing which names correspond to which abilities is key.



Q: 今回はミニゲームが充実していますね。


Q: ミニゲームに関して、それぞれのご担当のかたに裏話や苦労なさった点をうかがっていきたいと思います。まずは『スノーゲーム』についてですが…。











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Pro Adventurer
Interview with the Cutscene Team: Yūko Akiyama (Lead for Bike Escape Scene and Others), Hiroyuki Honda (Lead for Junon Scene and Others), Yoshinori Moriizumi (Jumping onto Train Scene and Others), and Shun Moriya (Lead Cutscene Programmer)

"The ending cutscene took a lot of work, so we hope you'll take the time to watch it."

Q: One of the most impressive things about Final Fantasy VII is the smooth integration of in-engine scenes and pre-rendered movies.

A: The very first thing I worked on was the scene where Cloud and the others disembark at the train station and head off to bomb Mako Reactor 1. I knew that if I couldn’t successfully merge cutscene and gameplay in that scene, then it wasn’t going to work anywhere. But I was somehow able to make it happen, and we decided to stick with that approach going forward. The amount of data these cutscenes require is exorbitant, though, and a movie that’s only 10 seconds long can equate to thousands of files. It wasn’t uncommon for those files to be submitted to me several times, and I sometimes lost track of which ones went with which [laughs].

Q: I was surprised to find I could move the character while on the Junon elevator, despite being in the middle of a cutscene.

A: As mentioned earlier, it’s the result of a process that merges in-engine gameplay and pre-rendered movies. In principle, the camera should be positioned exactly the same when you render the CG background and the cutscene, so in that respect it isn’t too complicated. All you have to do is shrink or expand the character’s polygons as the elevator moves down or up. Of course, it wasn’t easy to sync up the character with the movie, and I spent a lot of time making adjustments.

Q: Were the character models that move around during the [fully CG] movies created from scratch for that particular purpose?

A: No. Basically the method was to take a character model, such as the one that appears during battle, and add movement to it. The more realistic-looking characters you see in the cutscenes are modified versions of those models.

Q: Characters’ demeanors seem to vary depending on the cutscene. Is that a reflection of the various individuals in charge of them?

A: Those alterations weren’t deliberate but rather something we were forced to do because the battle models the cutscenes used kept changing day by day [laughs]. I think there are quite a few leftovers from that process still in the game. They may be subtle, but if you pay close attention you can get a sense of the difficulties we encountered making these movies [laughs].

Q: Why don’t Yuffie or Vincent appear in the ending cutscene?

A: At first I was leaning toward including them, and I’d even started on the first part of the movie that Yuffie and the others would appear in. However, because those two characters may or may not be in your party, I would have had to prepare a different movie for each scenario. That would have meant an increased number of disc loads, and the movie I worked so hard on would have been a choppy mess, so in the end I gave up.

Q: What’s the approximate runtime of all the cutscenes in this game?

A: It’s about 40 minutes, I think. But even a 10-second-long movie takes about two weeks to create, regardless of how expertly you do it, so the real factor is how many hours total we spent making them. With a process that time-consuming, it’s a nasty surprise whenever something you made gets cut [laughs].

Q: Which scenes would you most encourage people to watch?

A: First and foremost is the scene where Sephiroth disappears into the flames. Those flames aren’t live-action captures but painstakingly rendered CG. Then there’s the intense scene with Sapphire Weapon where it looks like it’s about to destroy everything [laughs]. Finally, there’s the scene at the end with all the twisters [around Midgar]. That sequence was also very demanding.





Q: ジュノンのエレベーターで、ムービー画面なのにキャラクターを操作できるのには驚きました。


Q: ムービー中で活躍するキャラクターたちは、そのために描き起こされたものなのでしょうか?


Q: ムービーによっては、同じキャラクターでもどこか雰囲気がちがっていることもありますが、それは担当者の個性が出ているのでしょうか?


Q: エンディングのムービーにヴィンセントやユフィが登場しないのは?


Q: 今回の作品には、どれくらいの時間のムービーが収録されているのでしょうか?



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Pro Adventurer
Interview with Yusuke Naora (Art Director)

Joined Square on June 1, 1993. Noteworthy works include Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. Took charge of CG maps during the development of Final Fantasy VII.

"I was determined not to fail because the cutscene [team] was working so hard."

Q: Why did you choose to implement CG maps with perspective rather than the flat maps you used in the past?

A: That proposal came from the person in charge of planning the maps. We all considered the idea together and decided to implement it because it sounded interesting. But it took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to use [CG maps] effectively.

Q: So, you had to approach this game differently from the rest of the series. Was that disorienting?

A: Honestly, I didn’t have time to feel disoriented. We were set to advertise in February of [1996] that the Playstation would be the platform for the new game, so I knew if we didn’t have something convincing by then, we wouldn’t be able to capture players’ interest. Up to that point, our in-house team consisted only of artists who placed 2D pixels, and there was this sense that we were all embarking on something new together. Of course, people with 3D modeling experience were also brought on, but I couldn’t rely solely on them, so I tried my best to tackle the task of creating Midgar as well. In retrospect, it was probably a blessing that I never had time to worry too much.

Q: You mentioned working in 2D. Were there any useful techniques that carried over to 3D?

A: If you try using CG to faithfully depict a natural object, such as a tree, it ends up taking a ton of time. What’s more, there was an incredible number of things we had to draw this time. Therefore, I touched up renders by placing pixels over the surface and used hand-drawn textures except in places I decided to use photographs. In applying these sorts of workarounds, I was able to put my previous experience to use. Pixel techniques are also very useful for depicting rising smoke. However, you have to be careful with how you blend 2D and 3D in those cases. If you don’t do it right, the image will end up looking oddly contrived.

Q: How did you decide on the composition of each CG map?

A: If I already knew what everything was going to look like in my head, then I’d go ahead and make it accordingly. However, once I’d assembled a 3D scene, I was often surprised by how realistic it looked, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to get carried away thinking, “Maybe it will look cooler if I do this,” or, “Players will understand it better if I do this.” When that happened, I would render the image over and over again, trying to pick out which version looked best. I saw what a good job the cutscene staff was doing, and I didn’t want [the CG maps] to look shabby by comparison.

Q: It’s helpful how that finger-shaped cursor appears over the character’s head when you press the select button.

A: I was worried players would get stressed out by how elaborate the maps were, so I decided to add that feature in. It was an idea I’d been sitting on since Final Fantasy VI. I have some bitter memories from past Final Fantasy games where I lost track of the character due to backgrounds that I myself drew [laughs].

Q: Is there a reason you drew in so many details, to the extent of showing toilets?

A: From the beginning, I was intent on conveying a sense of daily life. Unlike in previous games, this time the challenge was to put together a convincing environment in one large picture, and details [like the toilet] were essential to that endeavor.

Q: Which is your favorite CG [map]?

A: It’s got to be Midgar. But it’s more like fondness than favoritism. Midgar was the location that involved the most staff. People would get together and say, “We should do this here,” or, “I’ll leave this part to you.” I really enjoyed those sorts of trust-building exchanges.




Q: これまでのように平面ではなく、パースのついたCGマップを採用することになったのはなぜでしょう?


Q: 過去の『FF』シリーズとは異なる作業をすることになったわけですが、とまどいはありませんでしたか?


Q: 2Dのお話が出ましたが、3Dになってもこれまでの技術が役立った部分はありましたか?


Q: CGマップの構図は、どのように決めたのですか?


Q: セレクト・ボタンを押すと、主人公の頭の上に指の形をしたカーソルが現われるのは便利ですよね。


Q: トイレまであんなに描きこんでいるのには、何か理由があるのでしょうか?


Q: もっとも気に入っているCGはどの部分ですか?

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Pro Adventurer
Interview with Nobuo Uematsu (Music Composer)

Joined Square on April 1, 1986. Has headed the soundtracks for many hit games, including the Final Fantasy series.

"I think the measure of a game's music lies in whether it fits the scene."

Q: With the change from cartridge to disc, Final Fantasy has become much more cinematic. But how about in terms of music?

A: This time [the Playstation] had a built-in sound source [with synthesizer functions], so the variety of sounds I could produce was larger. Aside from that, there wasn’t much different from the Super Famicom. The graphics are more realistic than the previous 2D ones, though. I thought it would be intrusive if I went with a cloying, straightforward melody, so I distanced myself from the visuals and tried to arrange just the rhythm and accompaniments without the melody.

Q: It would seem the evolution in graphics has also had an impact on the music.

A: With the chibi [lit. two-heads-tall] characters we had up till now, there was no visual way to convey their emotions or the drama they were dealing with. The music had to pick up the slack and provide emotional context. But now, with the graphics taking center stage, I could pick things out and draw attention to them [through the music] instead of doing all the work myself.

Q: The battle music doesn’t have that classic [alert noise] intro anymore.

A: Actually, for a long time I’d been thinking to myself, “Let’s not do this anymore—let’s stop doing [the alert intro]” [laughs]. There’s not a whole lot of places you can go with that intro, but I never had the opportunity to break away from it. Then the hardware changed [to the Playstation], and I thought, “It’s now or never. If I don’t change it this time, it’ll keep lingering on, even into Final Fantasy VIII.”

Q: The intro for the battle music lasts a long time. Is that to account for the disc load time?

A: No, that was just a happy coincidence. Although I should have said it was calculated [laughs]. But I actually did take that into account with Final Fantasy I. I made it so the intro would end roughly when the [first round of] commands were input.

Q: The final battle music is another synthesizer track, but I was surprised it made use of a choir.

A: I’d been wanting to use a choir. I thought, wouldn’t it be lovely to hear actual singing voices flowing out of the console? When I proposed using a choir to the programmers, they told me that although the [memory] constraints were very tight, it should be possible if I kept it under 15 seconds. But, as you know, that final battle track is about six minutes long [laughs]. The only way to keep it under 15 seconds was by recording the voices two measures at a time and treating them as simple tones [as opposed to hi-fidelity vocals]. At the end, I did my best to patch together all those tones to form one long recording. It worked out better than I expected.

Q: Changing the subject, what kind of instruments do you tend to use when composing?

A: A guitar or a keyboard, and also a flute. A recorder, to be exact. And then I’ll also use something like a mandolin. Plus lots of other stuff, too [laughs]. I try to use whatever instruments I have on hand, regardless of what they are. If you only use a keyboard, you tend to fall into habits of using your hands, and your fingers will want to assume certain positions when playing. Also, it’s not uncommon that a track’s true essence will rise to the surface when I play it with a mandolin or a violin.

Q: If and when Final Fantasy VIII happens, do you have any ideas ready for making its music?

A: Although I experimented by using a choir this time, I don’t consider Final Fantasy to be a game where music should be pushed to the fore. I’m not trying to sound cool by saying this, but in the end I’m just one member of the larger Final Fantasy team, and I don’t have any ambitions to make the music stand above the rest. Rather than just make good music, I want to help the rest of the staff make a good game. I believe the music’s primary purpose is to set the scene for the game.




Q: メディアがCDに変わったことで『FF』もより映画的になりつつありますが、音楽のほうはいかがですか?


Q: グラフィックの進化が音楽のほうにも影響を与えているということですね。


Q: 今回、バトルの音楽から、おなじみのイントロが消えてしまいましたが?


Q: 今回のバトルの曲はイントロが長くなっていますが、それはCDのアクセス時間に合わせてのものですか?


Q: ラストバトルの曲も内蔵音源ですが、そこにコーラスが使われていることに驚きました。


Q: 話は変わりますが、植松さんは作曲なさるときにどのしような楽器を使われるのでしょう?


Q: もしも『FFVIII』があるとしたら、音楽を作るうえでのアイデアなどは、すでに考えられていますか?

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Pro Adventurer
Interview with Yoshinori Kitase (Director)

Joined Square on April 1, 1990. Oversaw all aspects of Final Fantasy VII as director. Noteworthy works include Final Fantasy V and onward, as well as the Game Boy version of Seiken Densetsu [Final Fantasy Adventure].

"My goal is to create a product that combines the interesting aspects of both games and movies."
"Final Fantasy VIII should be a work that moves players even more, further exploring the story and system and strengthening character performances."

Q: It’s said that when a Final Fantasy game’s number is odd, the system is emphasized, and when it’s even, the story is emphasized.

A: I’m aware that some of the people who work on the series have that saying, but I don’t personally pay it much heed. However, because this was the first Final Fantasy game for the Playstation, instead of focusing on one or the other, I communicated to the staff that we should focus on both the story and the system.

Q: So, the characters are made from polygons this time.

A: It was the natural next step. Before now, characters used to act and gesture with pixels, but that involves a huge amount of data. I wanted to emphasize characters’ performances this time, too, and I wondered if there were some easier way to accomplish that. With polygons, you can create just one character model and then animate it later. It used to be that you could only make characters move or gesture if you were skilled enough to draw it with pixels, but now with polygon animations, other staff, such as directors and planners, could take charge of that process. This turned out to be a huge advantage.

Q: Is it because of these polygon characters that the maps are now CG with a variety of camera angles?

A: Yes. Because it was no longer necessary to have that top–down perspective, we were able to create more immersive environments. However, we had a lot of difficulties with the map creation process. As you can see by comparing the development screenshots (see righthand page) with the finished product, the project underwent many dramatic changes.

Q: I was surprised by the quality and quantity of cutscenes. Was this also something you took into account when transitioning to the Playstation?

A: The cutscenes were certainly of interest to me, but I wanted to avoid making just the opening, the ending, and a few story highlights into movies, as that would be no different from what we did in the past. The Final Fantasy series has often been described as cinematic, but games and movies are naturally different entities. I don’t think you can excite players just by scattering cinematic cutscenes throughout the story. However, movies offer unique advantages that cannot be ignored. If you can link gameplay and cinematics to such an extent that players don’t know when input ends and when the movie begins, then you can combine the interesting aspects of both and create an unprecedented entertainment experience.

Q: It’s now at the point where you’re making fully CG cutscenes. Do you think future Final Fantasy games will continue to place more emphasis on cinematics?

A: I don’t think the approach will change much. Rather than that, I’d prefer that we focus our energies on further combining the gameplay and cinematic components. I want to continue exploring the sorts of things we did in this game, such as being able to move the character around while a cutscene is taking place.

Q: The rich variety of minigames is a defining feature of Final Fantasy VII, but it seems like they were built for more than idle amusement. Why is that?

A: I think it has to do with the new Playstation hardware, which increased the breadth of experiences we could present to players in Final Fantasy VII. We decided on the format for stuff like the battle system and field maps, but there were still so many other things the Playstation hardware was capable of. Naturally, as a creative person, I wanted to try all sorts of different things. I thought about how I could present the world of Final Fantasy VII from a variety of different angles, making full use of the many expressive tools at my disposal. Minigames ended up being a good way of doing that.

Q: How do you expect the Final Fantasy series will progress from here now that it’s moved to the new Playstation platform?

A: I think there are two ways to approach that. One way is to focus on the finished product: “Introducing new concepts is all well and good, but let’s aim for an impeccable work where every aspect is perfectly polished, even if that means keeping innovations to a minimum.” The other way is to prioritize the legacy of Final Fantasy, passing it down from one game to the next. The latter is my preferred approach: “Let’s create a work that inherits the spirit of Final Fantasy, even if the story and characters have nothing in common with the previous entry, and eagerly experiment with new concepts.” Maybe next time we’ll turn all the new stuff on its head—the polygon maps and combat, the meticulously drawn towns and villages. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Q: Is there any possibility the series could return to 2D?

A: I suppose there’s a remote chance that could happen. Up till now, we didn’t really have a choice in terms of game design because of the limitations of the hardware. But in moving to the Playstation, Final Fantasy was able to overcome that obstacle—and we still have yet to push the hardware to its limits. In other words, there are still more techniques for presenting the series than the ones we used with Final Fantasy VII. For example, our starting point this time was the image of Midgar and the suffering people living in the shadow of that city. That sort of overarching theme forms the basis for what the Final Fantasy game will be, so if we determined that an art style with 2D pixel characters could better represent it, then it’s possible we might choose to make it like we made Final Fantasy I through VI.

Q: I see. So, what kind of game do you think Final Fantasy VIII will be?

A: We only just got finished with Final Fantasy VII, so nothing’s been decided yet [laughs]. However, we experimented with a lot of new ideas this time, and I’d like to be deliberate about which ones carry over. What worked and what didn’t? I want to get a good grasp of that and properly reprise them in the next work. Sorry if that answer was a little vague [laughs].

Q: It wouldn’t hurt to elaborate a little more [laughs].

A: Well, we somehow managed to achieve our goal of both writing a compelling story and integrating new mechanics and technical concepts into the game. I’d like to pursue that even more with Final Fantasy VIII. I’d also like to strengthen the game in terms of character performances, using cutscenes to greater effect. I want to make Final Fantasy VIII an even more emotional experience than Final Fantasy VII was.

Image Caption: The image above shows Nibelheim in the early stages of development. The image at left shows a “Grapple” command that didn’t make it into the final game. Kitase claims that in order to achieve a better work, you sometimes have to destroy the things you create.

[See next post for Japanese.]
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Pro Adventurer


Q: これまでの『FF』は、作品ナンバーが奇数のときはシステム、偶数のときはストーリーをそれぞれ重視していると言われていますが?


Q: 今回はキャラクターがポリゴンになりましたが?


Q: マップが多彩なアングルのCGになったのも、ポリゴンのキャラクターと関係しているのですか?


Q: 予想以上のムービー(ゲームの中でコマンド操作を必要としない動画部分)の質と量に驚かされましたが、PSへ移行したのは、こうした点にも力を入れることを考慮してなのでしょうか?


Q: 現在、オールCGの映画を制作しているそうですが、それにともなって、これからの『FF』もムービー部分の比重が大きくなっていくのでしょうか?


Q: ミニゲームが非常に充実しているのも『VII』の特徴ですが、単に息抜きするためのものとは思えないほど作りこまれているのは、なぜでしょう?


Q: PSという新しいプラットホームへ移ったことで、『FF』は今後どのような進化をとげていくのでしょう?


Q: 以前のような2Dにもどる可能性もあるというわけですか?


Q: なるほど。では、北瀬さんは、『FFVIII』はどのような作品になるとお考えですか?


Q: もう少し具体的だとうれしいんですが(笑)。


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Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
Smooth Criminal
Q: What’s the connection between Barret and AVALANCHE?

A: When Barret came to Midgar seeking revenge, he found an AVALANCHE that was fighting for reasons that aligned with his own. Seeking to imitate them, Barret named his own group AVALANCHE. But that’s not to say the original AVALANCHE ever disappeared. They’re still carrying out minor operations behind the scenes, in places the player never gets to see.

Oh that's interesting. So they were thinking like that all the way back in 1997. Interesting. Very interesting. So this AVALANCHE HQ ain't so new after all.

This is what I love about overcoming the language barrier. Things that may seem so revelatory are sometimes things that have just been known overseas.

Thanks so much for sharing this @Ultimasamune


Ninja Potato
This is one of the best things to come to TLS in a long time, thank you so much!

It's so quaint to see them struggle with the PS1 and treat it like cutting edge tech, considering how far we've come since then. All the different anecdotes really go to show that FF7's success and longevity was the result of everyone who worked on it trying their best with new technology and the freedom it brought them to be creative and unleash ideas they didn't have the capacity to produce in the past. This really reminded me of why I love the game so much.


Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
Smooth Criminal
So that makes... 2 unused but previously referenced concepts of the OG now being implemented in the Remake. That's interesting.

The Black Cloaked Sephiroth Copies actually turning into Jenova monsters.

And the true AVALANCHE operating behind the scenes and opposing Shinra along with the main characters.

Maybe we will see some more unused concepts be used in the Remake after all. Viable ones, at least.

Come on, Rule 63 Sephiroth, let's go!:awesomonster:


Pro Adventurer
This would be ideal content for the front page if you don't have any objections @Ultimasamune ?
Absolutely, I'd be honored! Imo there are just two things I'd like eyes on: the sentence about the Chocobo name/ability connection, and the bit about Tifa being ベタベタ, which I translated as "clingy" for lack of a more generous term. Don't want to ruffle any shipper feathers. Also, what is eveyone's best take on the sentence at the end of Nomura's first answer? Is it the past tense of the idiomatic ものがない ("there is no such thing"), or is he simply saying that wasn't the type of story they had in mind at first?
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Pro Adventurer
I've played thru PS1 FF7 in JP before. Basically, I don't see any issue w/what you put cause the issue is the English localization lol.
Do the chocobos you catch have multi-part names or at least names the have to be at least two characters? I'm wondering if what Adachi is implying is that the automated chocobo names carry the father's name and the mother's name, and you can use each to predict the racer's potential. In other words, it's moot if you're manually competing with your own chocobo.


Pro Adventurer
Holy smokes, had to stop my daily chores to sit down and read this. What a gold mine.

So many interesting insights. Since the interview was conducted before the release of FFVII International, we can see how things like the Underwater materia was cut and then repurposed. It's also interesting to me the interviewer wanted confirmation that the journals in the Shina Manor basement were about Zack and Cloud. I suppose since Zack's death scene was added later in International, those journals were the only hints Japanese players had as to what happened to Zack in the original release. I always wondered about that!

I absolutely love how candid everyone is. Nomura especially. He just straight up says things like "Yep, I created the Limit Break system and the best summon animation is Titan's." I swear if you asked him the same question on Remake today he'd say something cryptic like "count the number the birds in Chapter 8. When you get to the last one, you should be able to find the answer."

“Let’s create a work that inherits the spirit of Final Fantasy, even if the story and characters have nothing in common with the previous entry, and eagerly experiment with new concepts.
The whole reason I love Final Fantasy.
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Kaiju Member
So that makes... 2 unused but previously referenced concepts of the OG now being implemented in the Remake. That's interesting.

The Black Cloaked Sephiroth Copies actually turning into Jenova monsters.

And the true AVALANCHE operating behind the scenes and opposing Shinra along with the main characters.

Maybe we will see some more unused concepts be used in the Remake after all. Viable ones, at least.

Come on, Rule 63 Sephiroth, let's go!:awesomonster:
Out of curiosity where was that Sephiroth copies trivia mentioned before specifically?


Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
Smooth Criminal
The Early Material Files of the FFVII Ultimania Omega.

You had Jenova utilizing pieces of its body as Black Cloaked followers and they would morph into Jenova monsters, like in the OG. Jenova HEART was an example.

Marco becoming Jenova PULSE through the power of Jenova's main body is similar to that. After all, in FFVII-R, a Sephiroth Copy is morphed into a Jenova monster boss, granted we don't know if any portion of the main body of Jenova was utilized to to make said transformation. However, the main body looked just as intact when Sephiroth Copy #2 picked it up and escaped with it.

Either way, it's a very similar scenario and one that certainly didn't happen in the OG.
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